Fernando León is a business school graduate most commonly seen in suit and tie. He’s also one of Peru’s most successful conservationists. His country has tropical forests covering an area the size of California, a coastline rich in marine life, and protected cultural marvels like Machu Picchu. A veteran of years working in the government, he was frustrated by the meager funding allocated to protecting the country’s natural heritage.
We found this long bridge that connected a rainforest community and consumers in the city,” says Alfonso Malky. “It was made of chocolate.”
In 2011, CSF’s Malky discovered a complex, but promising web of connections between economics, the environment, and the human condition when he created a market study for the Bolivian chocolate company Selva Cacao (“Jungle Chocolate”).
This story starts millions of years ago with the emergence of the cacao tree in South America’s rainforests. It was domesticated thousands of years ago and is now grown in vast plantations throughout the tropics. The stuff Selva Cacao uses, however, is still from wild trees in the Amazon Basin of Bolivia.
From Acadia to Zion, Big Bend to Yosemite, U.S. citizens take them for granted: signs and stairs, benches and bathrooms. Invisible as it may be, infrastructure is key to a park’s value proposition. Visitors willingly pay for a park experience that includes beauty, awe, and a few safeguards and conveniences. And people will defend what they love, which is why we wanted to help them get to know, and love, the Fernando de Noronha National Marine Park.
When it comes to the math of improving one of the world’s most controversial roads, it’s important to include all the numbers. In 2009, powerful government officials lobbied for the paving of BR-319, a nearly impassable, 500-mile route through Brazil’s Amazon rainforest. The road was opened by the country’s military rulers in the 1970’s but soon abandoned for lack of use. Supporters of the plan to reopen it claimed that the road would bring economic opportunities to isolated communities as sure as downpours came from the Amazonian sky. But CSF’S study showed the numbers don’t begin to add up. In fact, they’re not even close. To this day, BR-319, which if blacktopped, could have an environmental ripple effect on the world, remains tangled in luxuriant jungle.
That roads cause deforestation has been known for decades, documented in scholarly and anecdotal accounts. But this outstanding video from roadfree.org may be the most effective telling of this roads-and-forests story yet! Watch it. If you care about nature and have a sense of humor you'll want to laugh and cry at the same time.
Roadlessness was at the center of policy battles over US public lands in the 1990s. Now it's gaining some traction in the tropics, where the advance of roads has fragmented nature into smaller and smaller bits, condemning certain species, especially large predators, as well as indigenous cultures that depend on not having contact with the modern world.
In September 2009, Theresa Kas visited the small village of Sohoneliu in the Manus Province of her native Papua New Guinea. It was a dramatic change of scenery from Stanford, where, a month earlier, she had completed Conservation Strategy Fund’s international “Economic Tools for Conservation” course. Kas, who works with The Nature Conservancy, saw that deforestation was on the rise and traditional hunting was dwindling, and wondered if the local economy’s resource base was careening toward collapse. So she pulled out her CSF notes and put them to use.
Last month, we had the opportunity to bring CSF’s economic analysis training to a new audience – the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) in Washington D.C. The IDB approves over $11 billion dollars in loans each year, and is a major force in shaping the face of development in Latin America. We delivered two training workshops for transport and water sector specialists from various country offices, and a shorter session for IDB Economists based in D.C.
In November, the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation's Environment Program awarded CSF $100,000 as part of our expanding marine initiative. This award will fund a decision-makers workshop and a mentored groundwork field analysis.
On November 12th, in Brasília, Brazil, 30 journalists from the Amazonian regional media as well as from the national and international outlets attended an infrastructure-focused workshop organized by CSF-Brasil. These professionals hailed from various organizations including O Eco, IPAM, IMAZON, WWF, and TNC. John Lyons of the Wall Street Journal, Wilson Cabral of Instituto Tecnológico de Aeronáutica, and Paul E. Little, anthropologist and infrastructure expert, were also in attendance. Speakers shared information about the impacts of infrastructure projects on ecosystem services in the Amazon. The event provided a forum to discuss infrastructure project planning as well as key environmental, social, economic and legal issues that need to be understood by society.